Etiquette Part DEUX

If there is gospel etiquette for the gathered church, it starts with evaluating my heart, not their actions. Frustration with others’ distracting behavior—whether in the pew in front of me, or on the stage—is deeper and more dangerous than the nonchalance or negligence that sidetracks others.

Of course, there are rare exceptions when someone really is totally out of line. Such as the guy who brought his own tambourine one week. But even in the occasional instance where someone’s worship conduct is seriously out of bounds, what if we started by asking ourselves some hard questions?

•If love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), might God be calling me to look past this distraction I perceive?
•Am I really applying John 13:34-35 (“love one another”) to fellow Christians in weekly corporate worship? If we can’t apply John 13:34-35 when the church is gathered, are we really going to apply this elsewhere?

The principle of walking in line with the gospel (Galatians 2:14) in corporate worship looks like this: In grace consider others enough to refrain from distracting them, and extend grace to those who you find to be distracting. Here are a few suggestions for how to think well of and for others in corporate worship.

1. Arrive early.

Not only does early arrival keep you from distracting others by coming in late after the service has started, but it also enables you to greet others and extend to them a welcome as they arrive. Ain’t no shame in coming early for some social time. God’s happy when his children love each other.

Also, arriving early (rather than late) helps us remember that the whole service is worship, not just the sermon. Even though we’d never say it, sadly we sometimes function as if everything before the sermon is some added extra or just the warm up for the preaching. The worship really begins when the preacher ascends to his pulpit. It’s fine if we miss the first few minutes of singing. No big loss.

2. Park far, sit close.

This is one practical way to count others more significant than yourselves, and look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). Parking far leaves the better spots in the lot for those arriving after you, and sitting close leaves the seats near the doors easily accessible.

3. Participate heartily.

“Heartily” is an attempt to communicate a balanced kind of engaged participation—not being a mere spectator and not being that guy singing with the out-of-control volume. The problem of over-participating speaks for itself (quite literally), but in regard to under-participating, note that you are actually robbing others of the value of corporate worship when you don’t engage. Your presence is a part, and your voice is a part as well. The experience of corporate worship is enriched when all the attendees participate.

4. Smile.

I’m not counseling you to fake it . Corporate worship is a time for gladness and excitement, not mere duty. Try to make the most of your morning before attending corporate worship, and let your gladness be contagious. Like George Mueller, seek to get your soul happy in Jesus, and ask God for help to spill over some of your soul satisfaction on others.

5. Stay late and engage others.

Come on the look for people, transition Godward in the worship gathering, and leave on the look for others. Some of the most significant conversations in the life of the church happen immediately after worship gatherings. Relationally, this is one of the most strategic times during the week to be available and on the lookout for
•new faces you can make feel welcomed
•old faces you can connect with
•hurting people you can comfort
•happy people you can be encouraged by.

Sometimes you just gotta go after a service. We get it. That’s okay. There are special events, or unusual demands, or seasons of life with small, antsy children. But if you’re bouncing out the doors every week as soon as possible after the services ends (or even before it’s over), you’re at least not making the most of corporate worship.

6. Come to receive from God and give to others.

This is the banner over all the other charges. Come to corporate worship on the lookout for feeding on God and his grace, and on the lookout for giving grace to others. Come to be blessed by God, and to bless others. Receive from him, give to them.

We’re prone to get this backwards. We come to worship thinking that we’re somehow giving to God, and we subtly expect we’ll be receiving from others. We desperately need to turn that pattern on its head.

The God we worship is one not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). And when he came in the flesh, he did so “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Beware coming to corporate worship to serve God. But by all means, come on the lookout to serve others. Worshiping God and building up others aren’t mutually exclusive but come to their fullness together.

We give to one another as we together come to receive from God our soul’s satisfaction. We kill both the vertical and horizontal of corporate worship when we come looking to give to God and receive from others


Worship Etiquette by D Wadsworth

So this morning was a challenge…Rough start due to major back pain and gathering up the kiddos. We prayed in the van to be free from distraction and worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth…

Music was strong…drawing us closer to His throne room. We as a church have been progressing through a certain area of scripture and it has been a great time of correction. comfort, and conviction.

The only problem is I have a hard time with the people around me. I know I am selfish. Self centered and not very GRACE giving. Young man behind me blowing bubbles and popping his gum, people sleeping and talking and today was a new one…..a girl braided her hair and checked her look in her I-pad….What is wrong with me.. Why can’t I just worship and give GRACE? We are all at a different part of our journey with Christ.

How nice would it be if everyone would just mind their manners in weekend worship? So thinks our old self.

Let’s admit it. We’re tough on others, easy on ourselves. We assume others should give us the benefit of the doubt—which is the very thing we don’t give to others.

We love to blame our neighbor, or the worship leader, for our inability to engage in corporate worship. But the deeper problem usually belongs to the one who is distracted. Few things are more hypocritical than showing up to a worship gathering of the Friend of Sinners and bellyaching that other sinners showed up too.

Judgment,Tolerance, or Fruit Inspecting

A few weeks ago on a Facebook page it was posted an excerpt from a sermon by Pastor G in which he exposed the false doctrine that is being preached by well-known Pastor L. I was disappointed and discouraged by the comments from several fellow Christians. In dissenting posts about Pastor G, the theme seemed to be that people thought he was being hateful and angry towards Pastor L. One person used several Bible verses to defend her position that this is not how Christians like Pastor G should act. She said, “Don’t underestimate the importance of love. Love never fails [1 Corinthians 13:8].” This person also quoted a portion of John 13:35, which states, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I agree wholeheartedly that Christians are to love others and that this is an important hallmark of our walk with Christ. However, what does it mean to love others? In many evangelical circles today the meaning of love seems closer to the world’s definition instead of God’s. Many unbelievers promote the idea that to love others means being tolerant and accepting of everybody’s ideas, actions, and thoughts including gay marriage, the right to abortion, and many others.

Many Christians have also adopted this mindset and get upset and angry, as this series of Facebook posts showed, when one Christian (like Pastor G) criticizes another professing Christian (Pastor L). One person even went as far to quote Philippians 1:18, which states, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice” to defend Pastor L and infer that God can still use him to bring people to the truth. This verse speaks only to the motive of the person presenting the truth not the presenting of false doctrine or a false gospel. If an atheist gets up in front of an audience and reads the Bible then God can use that because even though the motive is wrong, the truth is still being heard. When a person does not preach biblical truth or the true gospel, like Pastor L, Philippians 1:18 does not apply.

Several verses earlier, in Philippians 1:9, Paul states, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment” (emphasis mine). An aspect of our love for Christ is to be discernment, knowing right from wrong whether it concerns what unbelievers or believers teach. We can only be discerning if we know and study God’s Word.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, emphasis mine)

So what is love? “God is love” (1 John 4:8). But God’s love is not all candy and roses. Hebrews 12:6 states, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” If we truly want to reflect God’s image when it comes to love, then we need to be discerning and help those professing Christ to know the truth of His Word.

Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!

Thy Kingdom Come! -D Wadsworth

On Wednesday evenings we have been having a truly blessed time studying scripture together. Last night didn’t disappoint. We spent some time digging into the Lord’s Prayer and the petition “Thy Kingdom Come”.

What is it that you are saying? How does it apply to the context of the prayer? What is your motivation when you declare it?

When you come to Christ and you’re sick of yourself and sick of your sin and your selfish ways and you bow the knee to the lordship of Jesus Christ and receive from Him eternal salvation, from then on the objective is expressed in this praise and prayer, “Thy Kingdom come.” Confessing Jesus as Lord and King is to say, “Take over my life, fit me into Your purpose, put me somewhere in Your objectives and agenda and program.” When I say, “Thy Kingdom come,” I am affirming that I have relinquished the rule over my own life. And I allow You to do whatever it is that You want to do. It’s very like the next phrase, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Now this petition is based on one great assumption and that is that God is sovereign and Jesus is Lord and at salvation we are submitting to that glorious reality.

Now remember as you look back at the prayer, this is a pattern, a framework for praying. It gives us what it is that God expects to be the character of our prayers. It is a marvelously simple memorable little framework. And as I’ve been saying each week, you learn to pray your way through this framework. It’s sequential, it’s designed that way, and if you blend together the Luke passage with the Matthew passage, you get the full prayer in terms of our Lord’s instruction and we’re doing that, importing what we need to from Matthew to get the whole thing. It sets the record straight once and for all as to how we are to pray, how we are to access the throne of God for the glory of God. You remember our little verse, John 14:13, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” In the end, all our prayers are for the glory of the Father through the Son. And this prayer points that out. When you say “Father,” you acknowledge God as source. When you say “Hallowed be Thy name,” you acknowledge God as sacred. When you say “Thy Kingdom come,” you acknowledge God as sovereign. When you say “Thy will be done,” you acknowledge Him as superior. When you say “Give us this day our daily bread,” you acknowledge Him as supporter. When you say “Forgive us our sins,” you acknowledge Him as Savior. When you say “Lead us not into temptation,” you acknowledge Him as shelter. And when you say “Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever, amen,” you acknowledge Him as supreme. It really is praying to the end that God is glorified.